One question I get asked over and over again is, “What exercises can I do in place of squats?” Thanks to my growing number of friends and clients that are trying to get fit after 40 this is a common problem that I am more than happy to help provide some Squat Alternatives for!
Let me start by saying that I am not a doctor. I am a certified personal trainer and you should always consult your physician before taking on any exercise program. If you experience sudden, sharp pains at any time, STOP IMMEDIATELY as you may have an injury that could get worse if you continue. Exercise should be performed at your own level and be used to help you gain strength, mobility and flexibility as well as a healthier lifestyle that will help you live a longer, more active & productive life.
Joint pain can come from previous injuries, poor body alignment, bone and cartilage deterioration, strained muscles and more so it is very important to be evaluated by a physician or a chiropractor and to heed their recommendations for exercise.
Now if you have been cleared for exercise and just need to find some alternatives to help keep you moving I have quite a few to help you. 🙂 Squats can actually help you build strength in your knees, hips and ankles while working most of the muscles in your lower body which is why most great exercise programs incorporate them throughout. Squats build marvelous FAT BURNING muscles and I want to help you learn to LOVE THEM!
Let’s start with the modified regular squat. Many times just simply pointing your toes out slightly and following that direction with your knees (this should FEEL natural for your body, think squatting to pick up something off the floor like a child does) is the only modification you need to alleviate some pressure from the knees to help you continue to do your squats without pain. If you are a beginner, start these moves without weights and only add them and go heavier as you build strength and are ready for more resistance.
Plie Squats are another option. Stand with your feet wide apart, toes pointing out, lower into squat position with knees tracking toes and staying behind the knees.
Wall squats (shown below) are a great alternative too! Gently slide own a sturdy wall as far as you can comfortably go working towards a 90 degree bend in the knees. Keep your knees behind your toes. The wall will help support your back as you lower. Try holding this static move for up to a minute at a time. You may have to work up to that minute. It is harder than it looks! 😉
Much like Wall Squats, Wall Ball Squats can provide support for your back and help you walk your knees out and keep them tracking with proper alignment. You can roll the Stability Ball up and down the wall slowly or hold a static squat with it too. If you can’t go all the way to a 90 degree bend just try to do a 1/4 squat. Shortening your range of motion can alleviate pain in your joints as well while still providing the benefits of this powerful exercise. Another option with this move is to place a smaller ball between your knees and squeeze it slightly to help knees track straight as you squat. This is very helpful in training your knees to realign properly too. 😉
Leg press with resistance band is a FABULOUS alternative! Lie on the floor and place your feet in the center of a resistance band. You can choose to do this with both legs or one at a time. It mimics a leg press machine in a gym and alleviates most pressure on the knee while still working the glutes, hamstrings and quads very well. This is a great move for those you that are unable to preform weight bearing moves.
Bridge Lifts will work your booty like crazy! Lie on your back, flat on the floor with your hands palms facing down by your sides for support. Feet should be about shoulder width apart. Pushing mainly with your heels, lift your butt off the floor keeping your back straight, exhaling as you lift, holding for a second at the top of the move, inhaling as you lower. You can also do this move holding a weight on your hips (as shown below) for more resistance as you get stronger.
Bridge Lift on Stability Ball is a little more challenging and requires more strength but is another great option to work your entire lover body. Place both heels of your feet on the center of the stability ball about hip width apart and raise your hips holding for a second at the top, exhaling on the lift and inhaling as you slowly lower to starting position again.
Hopefully these will provide you with some great new alternatives to help keep you moving and achieving your health and fitness goals.
If you like what you see and some of these moves are just what you needed to get moving again, please feel free to share this blog with someone else you know that could use it too. As always, I love your feedback so please let me know how you are doing and if there is something else you would like help with. As a certified personal trainer and a Star Diamond Beachbody Coach, helping YOU achieve YOUR GOALS is my PASSION! Please let me know how I can help you.